NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – Kenya and Somalia have committed to peace while undertaking to amicably resolve the current maritime dispute at talks mediated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia on Wednesday.
Although State House had not released a statement on the outcome of the meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somalia’s Mohammed Abdullahi by the time of writing this article, the Ethiopian Premier said the duo agreed to address issues that have led to the escalation of tensions between the two countries.
“Through the leadership of PM Abiy Ahmed, Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Mohammed Abdullahi met this morning to discuss extensively on the source of the two countries dispute. As an outcome both agreed to work towards peace and to take measures in addressing particular issues that escalated the tensions,” Ahmed’s office said.
A translated message issued by President Abdullahi’s office said the meeting discussed recent diplomatic tensions adding Somalia and Kenya had committed to strengthen their working relationship.
He expressed gratitude to Ahmed for “spearheading the dialogue aimed at restoring the positive working relations that exist between the Somali and Kenyan government” while describing the talks as fruitful.
“President Farmajo (Abdullahi) and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta have had a fruitful meeting at State House this morning. The main agenda for the meeting was to find a solution to diplomatic differences,” his office said.
“They also held talks on how to combat terrorism in the region and formulate measures to bring peace and stability,” Abdullahi’s press office added.
The Somali Head of State arrived in the country Tuesday night in company of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Ahmed who mediated the talks.
Abdullahi and Ahmed were received at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by Foreign Affairs Political and Diplomatic Secretary Tom Omollo, the Foreign Ministry deviating from a now common tradition of sharing photos of formal receptions of visiting foreign leaders.
Kenya-Somalia relations soured mid last month after Mogadishu reportedly sold off Kenya’s oil and gas blocks at a London auction.
In response to Somali’s actions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs referred Somalia’s diplomat back to Mogadishu and recalled her representative stationed in Mogadishu, Lt. General (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo for what Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau described as “urgent consultations.”
PS Kamau accused Somalia of unilaterally selling off oil and gas blocks in a disputed maritime territory in the Indian Ocean at a London auction on February 7 while announcing the drastic measures on February 16.
MFA had termed the move “unparalleled affront on Kenya” vowing that the “illegal grab” will not go unanswered.
“This outrageous and provocative auction deserves and will be met with a unanimous and resounding rejection by all Kenyans as well as all people of goodwill who believe in the maintenance of international law and order and the peaceful and legal resolution of disputes,” Amb Kamau said on February 16, during a news conference at the ministry’s headquarters in Nairobi.
Kenya particularly faulted Mogadishu for engaging in the London auction in total disregard of ongoing mediation processes and a boundary delimitation case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) filed by Somalia on August 28, 2014.
Kenya has since reached out to a number of nations in what MFA has said were efforts to provide clarity on the dispute and assure the global community of its commitment to a peaceful resolution of the maritime dispute.
“We briefed them on the situation between ourselves and Somalia, provided the facts to both councils and to draw their attention to the situation,” MFA CS Monica Juma said last Wednesday of a session she held on February 22 attended by among other foreign envoys Britain’s Nic Hailey and France’s Aline Kuster-Menager.